Newest Addition to in-depth Community Archives on L.A. Black History
The Southern California Library welcomes the newest addition to its rare collections on L.A.'s history of community change: records of the work and writings of Larry Aubry, a longtime community activist and columnist at the L.A. Sentinel. Aubry's papers join the many stories of Black struggles for justice found in the Library's archives, from the records of the L.A. Chapter of the Civil Rights Congress to pamphlets and speeches by scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois, to the papers of Charlotta Bass, an early civil rights activist and publisher of the California Eagle, who ran for vice president of the United States in 1952. As we celebrate Black History Month, the public is invited to check out the Aubry collection, which includes over 20 years of clippings and other materials from his "Urban Perspective" columns, as well as the Library's abundance of Black history collections, both at the Library and on the website: www.socallib.org.
The Library is located at 6120 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90044. The Library's collections are available to all members of the public for viewing and research during the Library's public hours, Wednesday through Saturday, 1-6 p.m. For more information, call (323) 759-6063, or go to www.socallib.org.
Larry Aubry is an activist who has focused his work on improving conditions for dangerously disenfranchised Black communities through coalition-building with other cultural and ethnic groups. His activism was spurred by his early experiences at Fremont High School in the 1940s, where he was one of the first Blacks to attend. As Charlotta Bass also documents in her book, Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of a Newspaper, Blacks were being hung in effigy from trees outside the school to protest integration. Aubry went on to become a social service worker, mainly in probation, but in a long career of community activism, he has also been a member of the Inglewood School Board; vice-president and education chair of the L.A. NAACP; a board member of Multicultural Collaborative and the Inglewood Coalition for Drug and Violence Prevention; vice-president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; and a member of the Reparations United Front and the Committee to Save King Drew Medical Center. He began writing for the L.A. Sentinel in the early 1980s, and was honored by the Southern California Library in 2005 in recognition of a lifetime of being unafraid to speak the truth, building bridges, and working to bring justice to Los Angeles through his outstanding journalism as a columnist for the Sentinel.
The Southern California Library is an independent people's library located in South Los Angeles, open to the public. As one of the most in-depth archives of Los Angeles community history in the world, especially of L.A.'s Black communities, the Library offers rich historical and contemporary resources, including:
- the papers of California Eagle publisher Charlotta Bass, who used her newspaper as a platform to fight for civil rights in Black and Latino/a communities half a century ago;
- the papers of South L.A. activist Ferdia Harris, known as the "Mother of the Block Club Movement" for her efforts to organize a coalition of neighborhood block clubs that laid the foundation for today's Neighborhood Councils;
- oral histories, photos, and materials and resources on the Watts 1965 unrest; audio files of Martin Luther King's last speech in California just a few weeks before he was assassinated; and hundreds of other periodicals, posters, films, pamphlets, and other materials on L.A.'s Black community history.
The Library's collections have been featured in national and local PBS programs, including The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords and Ode to Central Avenue, as well as in such books as L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present, by Josh Sides and The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance, by RJ Smith.
We have much to learn from Bass, Harris, Aubry, and the many other community histories held at the Library. Taken collectively, Larry Aubry's columns convey a vivid picture of changes in L.A.'s Black communities over the last few decades and provide a historical context for issues we continue to face-from the lack of investment in L.A.'s public schools serving youth of color to violence in our neighborhoods to the closing of hospitals in low-income, urban communities. Black History Month offers a moment of reflection to celebrate our histories and gather wisdom, lessons, and insights from them that can help us work with each other in a sustained way to improve conditions in all our communities.